Seniors say goodbye at graduation

By Kevin Wilson: Quay County Sun

The pair of cooling fans by the doors of Rattler Gym did wonders for the crowd as scorching heat pushed into Friday evening’s Tucumcari High graduation, but it wasn’t much help to graduating seniors who tried to keep their caps, sashes and gowns presentable when they walked by the fans.

With each senior who walked through the door, the next walked behind them, holding in place their sash. The unique line of seniors holding the garb of other seniors was done for functional reasons, but it represented a unity in the last moment the 63 students of the class of 2006 would be together.

With young and old graduates alike, the graduates made their speeches, received their diplomas and said goodbye to the high school that had known them for four years and the school system that had known many for 13.

In purple gowns and caps and gold sashes, seniors talked about memories that would last and the education that would help determine their future.

“You are receiving two educations,” Valedictorian Clay Beevers said. “The first is everything they wanted you to learn. The other one is all the memories, hardships, triumphs and everything else you left this world with.”

Even a graduate who knew a different world got to say his thanks and give his advice. Joe Valverde, who graduated from THS in 2005 after 56 years and service in two wars, said he doesn’t regret his life but better education early might have helped him throughout his life.

Valverde joked often with the students, saying that he only believed in two subjects when he was young — English so he could get a job, and math so his bosses wouldn’t shortchange him on payday.

Mostly, Valverde talked about how happy he was to be mentioned as a high school graduate along with the class of 2006.

“I’m glad to be part of the class that honored me in their greatest moment,” Valverde said.

Students thanked teachers, friends and family afterward, and Salutatorian Stephanie Burns did the same during her speech.

“We are all grateful for every parent, teacher and administrator for pushing us to be something bigger and greater than what we were, or are,” Burns said.